Too Much Climate Change Truth

Brad Wall’s “plan is laughable“. That’s because it isn’t a plan to address climate change, it’s a plan to sweep it under the rug for another decade. Too bad we’re short of time and marching toward oblivion.

Clearly, Wall now thinks we’ve fallen a long way as a province since the early days of his tenure in office — in terms of not only our fiscal situation, but also our generosity as a community.

This week, as part of his laughable excuse for a climate change plan, Wall started demanding that Canada’s federal government strip desperately needed resources away from some of the poorest people on the planet in order to preserve Saskatchewan’s standing as the world’s most reckless air polluter.

If Wall were to get his way, Canada would stand out as the most callous and irresponsible developed country on the planet.

Brad Wall is ignoring reality, for the benefit of greed.

When it comes to climate change, Saskatchewan’s plan is akin to an ostrich sticking its head in the sand.

Premier Brad Wall literally wants to bury our troubles. He wants to dig up fossil fuels and then bury them in another form. Carbon capture and storage might work, for a while. But it will not work near as effectively as just leaving the carbon in the ground in the first place.

A price on carbon will help us slow the rate at which we dig up our future and might enable us the time and opportunity to find a better way to build a sustainable and just society.

The great political theorist John Dryzek labels people like Wall as “Prometheans.” In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind. He symbolizes progress. Prometheans such as Wall believe that the story of human history is the story of progress.

They argue that nature has no limits, because once a resource runs out, clever people will find a new resource. Or, in the context of CO2 emissions, if humans hit the upper limit of emissions, someone will figure out a way to solve the problem without actually having to recognize limits. This is because those such as Wall recognize no limits to growth.

This is a rather hubristic position for a premier who oversees a province in which the economy is shrinking and natural resources — from grasslands to migratory birds to fresh water — are disappearing.

Most scientists agree that human generated CO2 emissions are changing the Earth’s climate. Economists, policy-makers, and politicians across the globe agree that a price on carbon is an effective way to reduce human-caused CO2 emissions. This is not a case of either-or. We do not require either technology or the economy. We need both.

We need every tool in the tool box. Saskatchewan needs to continue investing in technology that might help to mitigate climate change. And we all need to invest in adaptation strategies. But we also need to start paying for the environmental externalities associated with CO2 emitting behaviours. A price on carbon is one tool.

This is not an “economy versus the environment” issue, as Wall suggests. The economy is the environment. If Saskatchewan cannot grow lentils anymore because of unpredictable rain patterns, its economy cannot be strong. If there is no water left for hydraulic fracturing because of drought, the economy cannot be strong.

We do not choose between the economy and the environment because they are intertwined.

Wall warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the other provinces that Saskatchewan “will fight for our interest, in the court of public opinion and, if need be, in the courts of the land.” Wall might win the battle on principle, but Saskatchewan will lose the war on climate change and environmental degradation.

The costs will be greater than we can bear. Now is not the time to bicker over technology or the economy. It is too late. We need to invest in technology and we need to invest in the environment. A national price on carbon will cost real dollars, but it is a small fee for standing on the right side of history.

Andrea Olive is an assistant professor of political science and geography at the University of Toronto. She’s from Regina and has a summer home in Saskatchewan.

What’s Really Going On With Climate Change

There are too many people espousing their uneducated, or simply malicious views about the problem of climate change. There are enough of them in some places as to have totally halted progress against one of the greatest threats facing not only our species, but countless others. It’s equivalent to having spotted an Earth-directed asteroid with perhaps 50 years advance notice, but the urgency to solve the similar problem of climate change is no where close to what we’d expect for that pending disaster.

If you want to understand the problem, there’s this useful guide. Bill McKibben also provided this easy to understand summary of the magnitude of the problem.

[If] our goal is to keep the Earth’s temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius—the upper limit identified by the nations of the world—how much more new digging and drilling can we do?

Here’s the answer: zero.

That’s a lot of not digging. Most people grew up with the idea of oil prospectors and the image of Jed Clampett getting sprayed with Black Gold is seared into the brains of everyone older than 35. Yet if we don’t stop digging in short years, we all might as well be at the bottom of a see-ment pool.

Continue reading

Liberal 1 Year Report Card

The Trudeau Liberals returned to power on October 19, 2015. In the last year they’ve done some things I’ve disagreed with, and some things I approve of. I’ll list them from memory, because if I can’t recall them, they probably didn’t leave too much of a negative or positive impression:

Good:

B -Allowed 25000+ new refugees into Canada, reversing a xenophobic, and Islamophobic decision by Chris Alexander and Stephen Harper. Missed their deadline, or this would have been an A.

B -Made shirtless PMs cool again.

B -Instructed provinces to finally put a price on carbon pollution, in hopes that the market place will spur improvements where ethics and good judgement haven’t.

B -Provided his wife with a platform, another nanny, and also brought gender parity to Cabinet. Parity pay will come later perhaps.

 

Bad:

Incomplete -Promised to decriminalize pot, but hasn’t done more than appoint a former Toronto cop to the file. This ex-cop is partly responsible for Canada’s largest illegal mass arrest during the G20 in Toronto years ago.
(Multiple people I spoke to listed this issue as central to his promises, and they’re also disappointed in the speed at which this change is taking place. It’s so bad, it’s to the point of people expecting a reversal.)

Incomplete -Promised to end First Past The Post (FPTP), but has dithered, and recently even backtracked on the promise. Doesn’t seem to realize/care that electoral reform looks very different once you’re in power.

F -Promised action on climate change, but hasn’t done more than appoint a Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Minister McKenna made an effort to engage Canadians online to obtain their ideas, but we’ve yet to see a single one implemented. She’s also stated in Paris that her goal is to stop climate change at 1.5 degrees, but then adopted a bad Conservative target instead. She also approved, with Minister Carr, the PNWLNG plant in B.C. which will ramp up Canadian emissions and provide dead-end jobs in the fossil fuel industry.

D -Sought comments on banning microbead plastic, instead of just banning the toxic crap from cosmetics and other polluting products. Yahoo! even quoted me in their story about it.

F -Promised to review Big-Brother Bill C-51, but hasn’t done anything about the rights-violating law.

 

We’re at status-quo Canada, and after 10 years of Harperism, that’s pretty close to a Fail.

Wall Wants It Both Ways on #carbontax

The Premier says Saskatchewan doesn’t make a difference in world pollution because of our small population, despite our world-record pollution rate when measured on a per-capita basis. Then he argues to keep Canadian money from going to where in the world it will make the biggest difference in reducing emissions immediately. A journalist asked him why he wants to do that, he’s not the “Premier of the World”, so why not do what he can in Saskatchewan instead? He thinks Saskatchewan has the best chance to succeed in finding solutions for other jurisdictions. I think that’s a stretch since he hasn’t found or implemented a solution for little-old Saskatchewan. He’ll pump up nuclear and CCS, both of which are losing the race to renewables.

Johnstone: Supports Coal, But Calls Out Wall’s Lack of Plan

A notable column in the Star Phoenix from Bruce Johnstone, as he chastises Premier Wall’s “grandstanding” and for having no plan to deal with climate change.

Wall called the plan, […] a “betrayal” of the PM’s promise to develop a collaborative climate change policy with the provinces.

This despite the fact that Wall and the other premiers were told months ago to develop a carbon pricing plan, or have one imposed upon them. They were reminded of this again last week by Environment Minister Catherine McKenna.

[…]

Wall has also threatened to take the feds to court, claiming that the carbon tax infringes on provincial control of resources, which is protected under the constitution. While provinces are exempt from federal tax under the constitution, the courts could allow a carbon levy if used for regulatory rather than revenue-generating purposes, legal experts say.

Another Wall argument against carbon pricing is that it “holds the lowest potential for reducing emissions, while potentially doing the greatest harm to the Canadian economy.” Yet many economists say carbon pricing is more effective at reducing emissions than regulation or cap-and-trade systems because it changes consumer behaviour by increasing the cost of carbon consumption.

Wall’s weakest argument is that Canada accounts for only 1.6 per cent of GHG emissions, and Saskatchewan accounts for 10 per cent of Canadian emissions, or 75.5 million tonnes. “I deny the fallacy that a new tax on Canadians whose CO2 emissions are 1.6 per cent of the global emissions is the best way for Canada to help fight climate change.”

So what is your plan, Mr. Wall? If not carbon pricing — either through a carbon tax or cap and trade — what is it? Carbon capture and storage (CCS), tougher regulations, like the Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases Act that was passed in 2010 but never enacted, a carbon tariff on imports, with an offsetting rebate on exports, as suggested by Regina-Lewvan MP Erin Weir?

The fact is a majority of Canadians support some form of carbon pricing.

Also, in the Leader Post is a flawless column by Murray Mandryk:

Absolutely nothing Moe has said or done in the past week has had anything to do with him being an environment minister.

Whether or not you agree or disagree with the government’s decision to storm out of the federal/provincial environment ministers’ meeting, that its initial reaction was to call Trudeau’s proposal “National Energy Program II” tells you all you need to know about why the government has not, and will not, address GHG emissions in a meaningful way.

So why have an environment minister at all?

If these two keep writing entirely sensible columns, they’re going to put my blog out of a job pointing out their earlier mistakes in logic and worse.

We Hear #carbontax Won’t Work But It Will Change Behaviour

Coyne has a point:

Kevin replies, “I’m planning the purchase of a wood stove…”

Would you normally buy a wood stove?

There it is. An admission that the changes behaviour (just not in the way intended for everyone).

As Humans Do

Idle conversation among strangers around the office printer:
-“How are you today?”
“Fine… aside from the problem that the world might end due to climate change one day.”
-“Yes, I keep hearing about that every day. For instance the Great Barrier Reef has been declared dead.”
“Yeah, it’s been around for as long as I can remember.”
– “Millions of years. By the way, do you know if there’s a stapler I can use?”
“Yeah, over there.”
-“Thanks, have a good day.”
“You too.”